Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Astronaut Accidentally Calls 911 from Space

A Dutch astronaut has described how he accidentally contacted American emergency services on 911 while in orbit above the Earth. Astronaut André Kuipers described the experience while speaking on a radio program about his missions and communications between the Earth, satellites, and astronauts orbiting the planet.

Kuipers explained that while trying to contact NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, he missed an all-important number and accidentally called the US emergency services. He said that to reach the center in Houston, orbiting astronauts have to dial 9 for an outside line, followed by 011 for an international line. But of course, doing so while floating around in space is trickier than from a desk on Earth. “I made a mistake, and the next day I received an email message: Did you call 911?”

His communication slip-up set off a security alert at the Houston center. The emergency staff began by checking the room where the space station’s line connected to Earth before discovering that the source of the call was from orbit. Kuipers explained that it is surprisingly easy to communicate with Earth while aboard a space station in orbit. He said astronauts can reach terrestrial phones via satellites around 70 percent of the time. “I was a little disappointed that they had not come up,” he joked.

While there are a variety of obvious technical limitations for emergency services to respond to a call more than 200 miles above earth, it's still nice to know that even in space, 911 is there to help.

Possible preaching angle:

1) Prayer; Omnipresence of God – It is very reassuring to know that believers are never too far to be out of touch with God’s help in time of emergency. 2) Error; Forgiveness; Mistakes – God never condemns an honest mistake. He remembers that we are imperfect (Psalm 103:14) and prone to error.


David Brennan, “Astronaut Accidentally Calls 911 from Space,” Newsweek (1-2-19); RJ Johnson, “Dutch Astronaut Accidentally Calls 911 From International Space Station,” IHeartRadio (1-3-19)

Related Sermon Illustrations

Petitions That Honor Our King

Travel back 200 years in Christian history to John Newton, the slave-trader-turned-pastor and hymn writer. He would receive almost unbelievable answers to his prayers because he believed ...

[Read More]

Soldier Experiences Protective Hand of God

While serving in Iraq, Courtney Birdsey experienced the protective hand of God, forever changing her. She says:

On one of [our] missions, my unit made a return trip to Samarra, north ...
[Read More]